Ecology Cell & Microbiology Biotechnology Other How bees decide what to be: Researchers link reversible ‘epigenetic’ marks to behavior patterns


Johns Hopkins scientists report what is believed to be the first evidence that complex, reversible behavioral patterns in bees – and presumably other animals – are linked to reversible chemical tags on genes

The scientists say what is most significant about the new study, described online September 16 in , is that for the first time DNA methylation “tagging” has been linked to something at the behavioral level of a whole organism. On top of that, they say, the behavior in question, and its corresponding , are reversible, which has important implications for .

According to Andy Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H., Gilman scholar, professor of and director of the Center for Epigenetics at Hopkins’ Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, the addition of DNA methylation to genes has long been shown to play an important role in regulating in changing , like fate determination in or the creation of . Curious about how epigenetics might contribute to behavior, he and his team studied a tried-and-true model of animal behavior: bees.

Working with bee expert Gro Amdam, Ph.D., associate professor of life sciences at Arizona State University and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Feinberg’s epigenetics team found significant differences in DNA methylation patterns in bees that have identical genetic sequences but vastly different behavioral patterns.

Written By: PhysOrg
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  1. Dum-de-dum-de-dum . . . do housework . . . babysitting . . . looking after Mother . . .
    Sniff ! Sniff ?  Mmm, for some reason, these old genes just don’t feel right to me now.
     I must try on my new genes – yeah, that’s better, now I’ll go out, get some groceries.

    Another new page in The Magic Of Reality, written by some clever scientists…. 😎

  2. The article states “All worker bees are female and, within a given hive, are all genetically identical sisters.”   That this is not the case has been known for many years.  Yes, they are all female, but defin itely not genetically identical, as their mother, the queen, in her initial mating flight, mated with a number of males (drones).  That the workers are not genetically identical is clearly evident without any special techniques; just look at the workers in a hive, and you can see that some of them are darker or lighter than others. An error like this in an article makes me dubious of anything else it says.

  3. So how long before some evangelical “scientist” latches onto this and declares that “with this knowledge we can cure them gay people?”

  4. …roads without stoplights

    Continuing this theme –
    I guess it is like putting a car into ‘R’-reverse.

    A puzzle to me
    what is it quaint bee
    the flower you gather fair pollen
    maybe Albizia julibrissin
    otherwise known as Mimosa tree?

  5. The article seems to be written by a reporter, not the Johns Hopkins scientists.  That could explain the goof.  If you have ever been interviewed and later read the quotes of what you said, you won’t be surprised at the error.

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